DEADLINES….Republicans may say they don’t believe in deadlines for Iraq, but it turns out there’s one deadline they do believe in. The Pentagon budget signed a couple of weeks ago includes a hard date for putting Stuart Bowen, the Inspector General for Iraq, out of business:

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

That’s a real shocker, isn’t it? The official excuse from Duncan Hunter (R?Running For President), who inserted the provision, is that he wanted to return to a “non-wartime footing” for all this inspection stuff. That seems a little funny considering how relentlessly Republicans remind us that “we’re at war,” but maybe I’ve misunderstood this concept all along. After all, as our commander in chief tells us, war is hard.

But at least it should soon be a little easier for Halliburton.